Attachment Parenting, a Biblical Perspective

Attachment Parenting. There are so many people who believe that attachment parenting is not the Christian way to parent. That fostering attachment is somehow unimportant, or that the “biblical” way to parent (with spanking) will not interfere with attachment. The Bible says to spank, they say, so I’m going to spank. Well, technically, it says to beat with a rod, but let’s just skirt that entire argument and move on to a different passage.The Gospels warn us against taking the wide, easy path. Instead we are to take the narrow path, which is presumably more difficult.

Remember that.

Now, when Wally refuses to cooperate, or he hits (which is still somewhat of a problem around here), how should I handle it, in light of this idea? Let’s say that I’ve tolld Wally he needs to do something and he refuses. Stubbornly yells NO and just refuses to cooperate. What’s easy? What’s the wide path, if that can be measured by what “most people” in a society do? Stepping close and smacking him a good one, show that kid who’s boss. What’s hard? What’s the narrow path? Taking a moment to breathe deeply. Ignoring those around me, silently pressuring me to show that kid who’s boss. Seeing it from his angle. Being patient, gentle. Trying to come up with a way around the argument, or a way to still get my way but while leaving his dignity – and mine – intact.

What if Wally’s having a difficult time dealing with a given situation? It’s just one little meltdown after another. Yet I’m trying to participate in whatever activity is at hand. What’s easy? Punishing him for being difficult, persisting in getting my way by staying to “enjoy” myself (though how much enjoyment can you have when your child is being a pain?). What’s hard? Doing what’s best for him by removing us both from the situation, taking some time to calm down, do something else, step away from the craziness.

This is not taking the easy way out. This is not trying to force my will upon someone else, to control them, to make him mind. This is striving towards my ultimate goal – creating a human being.

But beyond the wide path and the narrow path, there’s also the fact that God has given us a great example to follow in parenting – Himself. How does He treat us when we say, basically, “No, God, I don’t want to do what You want, I want to do what I want. You have told me You want me to do X, but darnit, I’m not going to.” Does he reach down and smack us a good one? No, not even figuratively. There are consequences for our actions, sure. But, generally, I believe God is very gentle with us. He talks to us with His quiet, still voice. He gently guides us back to the right path.

But even more importantly, He doesn’t make us EARN His love. He loves us no matter what. How could we treat our own children any differently?

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5 responses to “Attachment Parenting, a Biblical Perspective

  1. Nowhere in the Bible does it say to beat children with a rod. The references are to using the rod as a guide, the way a shepherd uses a rod to help steer sheep down a path, the way God guides us (thy rod and thy staff comfort me).

    As a Jew, I get really offended when Christians cite Old Testament verses to support physical abuse of children. That reading of the text is not accurate (or at least is not taught to Jews that way), and I feel it reflects badly on Jews.

    One central element of Jewish teaching on children is that they are unable to tell right from wrong until age 7. Which is not to say that they don’t need guidance, or that they lack any awareness of making mistakes at a younger age. But the mistakes and misbehavior of a child younger than 7 cannot be thought of as sinful or stemming from evil inclination.

    You start teaching them right from wrong, but you don’t expect them to truly understand this at that age.

    While I don’t agree with a rigid age-based view of when children can understand right from wrong, I strongly believe in the concept that young children are not “bad” and should not be treated harshly–particularly using physical force–even when they misbehave.

  2. Proverbs 23:13-14 “Withhold not correction from the child: for if you beat him with the rod, he shall not die. Thou shalt beat him with the rod, and shall deliver his soul from hell.”

    well, I was skirting the entire issue, as I said, but isn’t that the very same rod from “thy rod and they staff, they comfort me”?

    ach, I don’t have the time/patience to do justice to a post about discipline and spanking among Christians. Fortunately, there are a lot of great websites out there that discuss this very subject.

  3. I just had to join in to the discussion since I’m passionate about this subject… I have to say that while I consider myself a “Christian”, I recognize and am ashamed by the way the Bible has been distorted by mainstream Christianity. It is true, just as the Jewish participant stated, through an in-depth study of those verses, we are NOT to understand this in a literal sense but rather figuratively. When is states to beat the child with the rod, it means to teach them and give correction. The rod symbolizes the guidance and more specifically life lessons passed down through the family. The rod was the symbol of their experiences and guide for life and character. I would encourage anyone who has a hard time swallowing what they read in the Bible (or even if they don’t) it makes a HUGE difference when the context, history, culture, and original translation are studied. For example, the Greek definition of “correct” is paideuo – a verb; meaning, “to train up a child, instructing.” I pray that God would help us all to discern His truth from the lies that satan has been so good at spreading around.

  4. I just have a comment on the example you give of little “Wally” refusing to obey. You state that the easy way, or the wide path, would be “Stepping close and smacking him a good one, show that kid who’s boss.” That is not an example of someone spanking their child in loving discipline; that is an example of someone abusing their child by reacting in anger. There is a big difference. Discipline, correction, whatever you want to call it is not easy, and those who believe in spanking their children, who do it in a Biblical and loving way, are not taking the “easy” way. It is hard to discipline is a correct way. It is hard to take the time to make sure you are doing it the right way, with a right heart. Spanking should never be done in anger, just as verbal correction should never be done in an angry way. Patience and love is key, and correcting a child should be with a goal of teaching him the right way to live according to God’s word, so that when he is old, he will not depart from God’s way. We do need to teach them to obey, because the Bible says to. We don’t teach them to obey us because we just want to “be the boss,” we teach them to obey us because God says, and because we know that, ultimately, the very best thing for THEM is to learn to obey God.

  5. I totally agree with your post. Attachment Parenting is very loving, very Christian. Spanking is not. In the Bible, at the Sermon of the Mount, Jesus describes anger as being as bad as murder. Later, he tells us to be gentle and loving to our children. There is a verse, I can’t remember exactly where, that says whoever hurts a child should have a mill tied around his neck and be thrown in the river. God very clearly commands that we are not to hurt each other or our children, and that includes spanking.

    If people want to claim to take the Bible literally, this isn’t spanking. It does not say to use your hand, pan, other object other than a rod to beat your kid. So, show me your rod. And if you take that verse literally, then you better be taking all of them literally including the one that calls for women to have their heads covered and to not speak in the church.

    Beyond that point — because let’s face it, lots of people are going to interpret the Bible differently — think about what would raise our children to be not more Christian-like but rather to truly know God. Attachment Parenting teaches children what love really is like — empathy, nurturing, discipline through teaching and guidance rather than pain. So those kids are growing up knowing what a healthy relationship is and what love feels like, to give and to receive. So, when they hear “God loves you,” they think “Wow, God accepts me for who I am and will guide me to make the right decisions in life” instead of thinking God as something to be feared. God wants us to know that He loves us just the way we are and that if we obey him, Our earthly and certainly heavenly lives will be fulfilled. Fear doesn’t allow us to feel that. Fear clouds our thoughts. Fear drives us try to win God’s love through our actions, instead of our minds. That’s why spanking — even if you say that you’re doing it lovingly — doesn’t work. Spanking makes a child’s motivation into fear — instead of wanting to please God because he really wants to. People who really love God would love God whether or not He promised judgment and hell.

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